The word hysteria originates from the Greek word for uterus, hystera. The oldest record of hysteria dates back to 1900 BCE when Egyptians recorded behavioral abnormalities in adult women on the Kahun Papyrus.[7] The Egyptians attributed the behavioral disturbances to a wandering uterus – thus later dubbing the condition hysteria. To treat hysteria Egyptian doctors prescribed various medications. For example, doctors put strong smelling substances on the patients’ vulvas to encourage the uterus to return to its proper position. Another tactic was to smell or swallow unsavory herbs to encourage the uterus to flee back to the lower part of the female’s abdomen. [Wikipedia]

Reading this, I am surprised that the word testerical or testeria never came into common use. Or was that just considered common or garden manliness and temper.

Male “traumatic hysteria”, as defined by Charcot, was a distinct disease from female hysteria in that it was linked to traumatic shock rather than sexuality or emotional distress, so the gendered stereotyping was still at work to an extent in Charcot’s thinking. [Wikipedia]

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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